I was frustrated with the lack of detailed instructions for making a chenille baby quilt. Sure I could find all types of instructions, but I wanted information for someone who has never made a quilt before. I never did find one complete with picture and non-quilter lingo.
I love the feel of chenille and flannel. For a baby or and young child, these seem like the ideal cuddle blanket. To make the same one I have, you will need the following,
- 5 meters of flannel – I used the same print for the front and back. When choosing the fabric for the chenille, I pulled colours from the printed fabric so it would coordinate.
- .5 meter of flannel for the binding. Some people use a satin binding pre-packed from the fabric store. I find satin doesn’t hold up well to many washings. Since this is a baby quilt, it WILL be washed many times over. Flannel is soft too and you have the advantage of using the background fabric or contrast, the choice is unlimited.
- 1 spool of Mettler No.100 274 meter poly-cotton thread. Old thread sitting in your sewing box will lose it’s integrity and will break frequently. Spring for a new spool.
- 1 #11 sharp needle for your sewing machine. You may break it, but if it is new it is sharp enough to poke through 5 layers of flannel. Less chance of breakage. You needle dulls over time, so consider changing it after 25 hours of sewing.
- Rotary cutter or a sharp pair of shears (large scissors used ONLY FOR FABRIC).
- If using shears, you will need tailors chalk in a colour that contrast with your fabric.
- Large ruler or omnigrid. I prefer an omnigrid because of the lines to ensure a straight cut.
- Cutting mat if using a rotary cutter.
- Binding clips (these look like hair clips – wait they ARE hair clips that I bought at the dollar store!)
- Safety pins
- Iron and ironing board
- obviously a sewing machine – you could hand sew this but I would die of boredom, you good luck to you! I have a walking foot attachment on my machine. You can purchase a roller foot if you don’t have one. It helps to pull all the layers through the machine together at the same rate, so there is less slippage and puckering.
- Seam guide attachment – this prevents marking the quilt and helps with guiding you to creating a straight seam…helps but you still have to take ownership😉
- small thread scissors
I didn’t use a quiltbat because flannel is warm. I wanted a floppy feel to the quilt so the child can drag it around like Linus does. If you decide to use a quilt bat, use a thin cotton so shrinkage stays the same. Buy extra needles because 6 layers of fabric is
I had the gal at the fabric store cut my 2m of background fabric in half. Sure I could do it but, why do I want to when she is willing and able? I had her cut the .5 meter separate as well too. Then I knew I could get straight to work.
I never pre-wash anything. Shocking right? There are several reasons for this.
- the sizing on the fabric ( its like a starch added to the fabric in production) keeps the fabric stiff and easier to work with, especially cutting!
- I like the look of shrinkage after the quilting (quilting is the sewing of the layers together) is done. It wrinkles between the quilting and it makes it look vintage and pre-loved.
- Fabric rarely runs any more. I have never had that problem and when I do, I dunk the entire quilt into a tea bath and dye it to even out the colours. Again, a nice vintage look.
- When working with raw edge flannel, the more fraying the better.
- The binding shrinks at the same rate as the quilt, less pressing (ironing) and sharper corners when mitering.
I layered my fabric on the floor in the following order:
The Quilt base:
- Background fabric
- Quiltbatting – I omitted this step
- Top fabric – Be careful to place these two pieces of fabric WRONG sides together. The good side of the fabric will be on the bottom and on the top. Wrong sides are sandwich together inside the quilt.
The chenille – layered next on top of the “top fabric”
- Print – right side down, so the top right side and the print right side are touching. This fabric will be the dominant colour throughout your quilt. Choose wisely.
- Second colour – right side down
- Third colour – right side up.
Layering is the most important step and crucial to get right. The fabric will not be straight or square. That is okay, we will square it up after sewing the layers together.
Pin all the layers together with safety pins about every 8″ apart. Straight pins will work but they will stab you once you are at the machine. Straight pins will also fall out, jeopardizing the integrity of the carefully matched layers.
For the chenille process to work, you must sew on the bias. The bias is the diagonal direction of the fabric – the stretchy part. I started at the corner and sewed a “straight line” to the other corner. First of all, I did not sew a straight line because I did not mark it out. Secondly, this is not a square quilt so I ‘eyeballed’ it. I am not a perfectionist. The Amish who are near perfect quilters always add a humility block because only God is perfect. So I am lazy AND not perfect. It works for me. The only one who will notice are other quilters, babies don’t care about perfection, they just want to be warm and to be cuddled.
Once I had sewn the first seam, I would line that seam up on the elbow of the seam guide and use that as my seam allowance. I had a quilted seams through 5 layers of fabric every inch. I sewed half the quilt on the diagonal so it appeared to look like a half-square triangle (half the quilt = triangular quilt lines). The other half of the quilt I sewed perpendicular to the original quilt seams.
Once the sewing was complete, I cut the top 3 layers of the fabric between the seam lines. You can purchase a chenille cuter from Olfa, but for $56 I figured I could use my scissors. Be careful to only cut the top 3 layers or you will cut your quilt in to strips and have to start all over again. I am happy to report I did it correctly!
It was at this point when I thought i should have set my seam guide to 3/4″, the chenille would have been shorter and closer together. However, i do like the finished product of being able to see the top or background fabric.
After cutting, i used my Omni Grid Large Square to cut and square off the quilt. At some sections of the quilt I had cut off a good 1 1/2″. The important part is to have the sides fairly straight and the corners true. This makes a difference when sewing on the binding. I have seen many demos where a dinner plate is used to round the corners. People tend to do that when they are unsure of how to miter a corner. Don’t worry, I have your back. I’ll show you how.
The Double Fold Binding
I use a double fold binding to had body and weight to the quilt, and it is a more durable option for quilts that will be laundered frequently.
I carefully folded my 1/2m with salvage edges together (the edges of the fabric that is finished from the factory, not the cut edge from the store). I line up the salvages and cut them off and discard.
Then I measure a two inch strip and cut using the rotary cutter. I cut 6 of these strips. You really only need 5 and a bit for this size quilt, but I like to have lots of extra for the mitered corners.
Piece together the 6 strips of 2″ flannel so you have a very long single piece of binding.
Fold fabric in half so you have a 1″ narrow binding and press. (Press not iron because you do not want to stretch or shrink your binding before it gets on the quilt)
Finger pin (because I hate the extra step of real pins, I just hold it with my fingers) the raw edge of the binding to the raw edge of the TOP of the quilt.
Start about 6″ away from the corner. Never start the binding at the corner.It is easier to hide the extra fabric of the finished binding on the side of a quilt rather than the corner. Sew the binding using the edge of your pressure foot as the seam guide around the raw edge of the quilt top. Ensure the pressed fold is “elbow” down. Once you meet the beginning of the binding, fold the start over about 1/2″ and continue to sew the binding over top for about an inch. it will be bulkier but there will be no raw edges and thus will be a sturdier binding.
Fold the binding over the the edge using the pressed elbow crease at the cover of the quilted layers. The pressed crease should fit over the edge of the quilt giving it a finished look.
Flip over the quilt to the backside.
Fold the raw edge of the binding under towards the pressed crease. Using binding clips hold the binding in place, ready for a blind hem stitch.
The Mitered Corner
There is a trick to it and if you are able to watch a video it might make more sense. To me a mitered corner is what sets quilts apart. It has a polished and professional look.
Sew your seam and stop 1/4″ from the edge of the corner. If you are using the pressure foot as your seam allowance, it is that distance you need to stop from the edge of the quilt.
Back stitch to lock your stitches and keep the binding secure.
Flip binding over the quilt. Use a blind stitch to secure the miter.
If this is your first mitered corner, you should practice on scrap until you have the hang of it. Then do it on the big quilt. I have a practice sample I made the mitered corner, complete with my hand writing all over it with tips and tricks notes for me.
Once the binding is completed, hand stitch the backside with a blind stitch.
Trim all your threads and get ready for the fun part.
This is my completed pre-washed quilt. You can see slight ruffles starting to happen. You will notice at the top the yellow ends and the green begins. I didn’t pay attention to the width of the fabric. The yellow was a smaller width from the rest. I used it anyways and I liked the colour variation it gave.
I washed and dried it using regular soap and fabric softener. Then dried it twice in the tumble dryer. Being so thick it needed two dry cycles.
Once I removed it, I cut all the loose threads. It stopped being so yellow and the plaid of the under-fabric became the main colour. Here is a close up of the chenille.
After holding this quilt for a while, I entertained the thought of making a larger one for cold winter movie nights. Likely won’t happen, but who knows?
It took me 4 hours to sew and cut the quilt and 2 hours to bind it. I did it over a two-day period. The closer together the chenille, the more sewing involved. That is what takes the time – and all the cutting. The more frequent the washing, the softer it gets.
So tell me, have you made one? How did it go?